Chao Chen receives Else Kooi Award

Chao received the award from Hans Naus and Eugenio Cantatore

The 2019 Else Kooi Award goes to EWI alumnus Chao Chen, for his work on chips for miniature 3-D ultrasound probes. The Else Kooi Award is a yearly prize for outstanding young researchers in the microelectronics field in The Netherlands. Chao received the award, which consists of prize of € 5.000 and a work of art, at the PRORISC Conference in Delft on July 4.

Chao’s PhD was a multi-disciplinary project on the intersection between electronics and ultrasonic imaging, aiming to realize miniature ultrasound probes for 3-D medical imaging. In particular, he worked on endoscope-based probes for real-time 3-D imaging of the human heart. Such probes are an important step forward compared to current 2-D imaging devices. They will provide improved diagnosis of cardiac conditions and guidance of minimally-invasive procedures.

To realize such probes, more than 1000 tiny elements that can send and receive ultrasound need to be integrated in a mm-sized probe tip. Chao developed custom chips that make it possible to connect all these elements using a limited number of cables to an imaging system. To locally process the echo signals, his chips employ innovative amplifiers and beamformer circuits that are substantially smaller and more power efficient than previous designs. Moreover, Chao realized the first chip capable of digitizing the echo signals in the probe, enabling better image quality with fewer cables, and making an important step towards next-generation smart ultrasound probes.

Chao’s work was carried out at Ultrasound ASICs group at the Electronic Instrumentation Laboratory, under supervision of Dr. Ir. Michiel Pertijs, in close collaboration with the Acoustical Wavefield Imaging group at the Faculty of Applied Sciences, and the Biomedical Engineering group at Erasmus MC. Chao's work was part of the MICA project. His PhD thesis can be found here. Chao now works at Butterfly Network, an American company developing hand-held ultrasound scanners.

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